tofutti3 9:49am, 5 November 2006
Are there any bentos (lunch jars or boxes) that are not plastic? If so where online since I'm in Australia?

Preferably stainless steel, I know that Mr bento is stainless steel on the outside but the containers are still plastic.
KJF916 12 years ago
I have several tiffin boxes which are stainless steel, in single tier, double tier, and triple tier, but they have no thermal qualities. Those are regularly available on eBay. There are also, on ebay, a good number of bento boxes in wood, which are not thermal, either. I find the tiffin boxes are my best bet when I don't want to carry plastic. They do retain heat and cold fairly well if they are packed in a thermal lunch bag.
Subspace 12 years ago
Traditionally, most bento were made out of lacquered wooden boxes, toffuti3, and many remain available with a little bit of internet seach magic. But Kate Ford brings up the most crucial point, which is their combination lack of thermal retention and inability to be microwaved. Most bento are designed to be eaten at room temperature, which is in large part what makes us (I assume) such Mr. Bento devotees: the ability to pack a lunch in a compact, indestructible AND microwavable manner is largely unparalleled.

And I've seen tiffins in stores before (spice stores, import stores) - they often have four to five (!) circular compartments that stack and lock vertically. They are very neat looking, and made of shiny stainless steel.
Subspace 12 years ago
Oh, BTW, this site has lovely tiffins and a whole array of other steel containers available, and though they are wholesale, I am quite sure you could ask them if they supply anyone in Australia.
tofutti3 12 years ago
Thanks for the replies. I have been looking at a tiffin but it doesn't have as much little categories as I would like and they look quite bulky. Allhough the link has a spice set that might be good.

I'm not so concerned about microwaving. I often take food in plastic containers and then put them in a bowl to microwave if its needs to be as I hate microwaving plastic anyway.

I guess my appeal in wanting a bento is simply to encoruage me to eat more variety as my lunch currently consists of one meal item.
ginalamb 12 years ago
Pearl River Mart in New York City offers several varieties online and ships outside the U.S. The materials include stainless steel and melamine. Here's the link:

www.pearlriver.com/v2/FramesCat.asp?iGroup=333

(To see pictures, click on any of the items.)
KJF916 12 years ago
Actually my stainless tiffin boxes are not bulky at all ... they sit on the palm of my hand and rise up to three tiers. They are very compact, but each holds at least 1 cup of food. In that manner, a 3 tier will hold 3 cups of food for lunch -- quite a bit. I divide them all the time with little condiment cups and other traditional bento dividers. They cannot be microwaved, of course, because they are steel, but I find many containers, such as a little margerine container, fit nicely inside and pop out for microwaving. There are a great many sizes of steel Tiffins, from petite (mine) to family (picnic size).
tofutti3 12 years ago
rehosl, those Melamine ones are so cute! Also, lots of stainless steel ones I have never seen before, Thanks!

KateFord, I never thought of using condiment cups and other bento dividers. Such a good idea. Any suggestions on where to get bento dividers and condiment cups? Also where did you get your tiffin box?

Sorry for so many questions, this is all very new to me.
.ams PRO 12 years ago
Tons of condiment containers and food cups are available from www.thebentostore.com
Subspace 12 years ago
Ariel's link above there is nice if not just for the brain-storming -- for example, they offer "reusable cupcake liners" for portioning, but those are just silicone cupcake forms that you can find in any kitchen store now. Also, apparently Tupperware brand makes miniature sizes (try typing "mini Tupperware" into eBay) that seal tightly.
KJF916 12 years ago
Tofutti ... I bought mostly all of my bento dividers, cups, sauce bottles, etc., on ebay. There a re a number of sellers, including .Ariel's suggestion, the bento store.

In addition, I don't know if you are near a Smart and Final restaurant supply store, but they are very good for better quality condiment cups (think little clear dixie cups) and especially those heavy duty paper cupcake and muffin liners with a rim (like a nut cup). They have them in all sizes, very inexpensive, and they make perfect dividers, which I toss away when I am finished. They are sturdy enough to be able to bake muffins and cupcakes in them without a cupcake pan -- and I use them to hold everything from nuts to applesauce. The paper holds up throughout the day, but isn't going to work for your really wet items, like soup.

Finally, if you have a .99 Cent Store anywhere near you, you're going to find tons of little containers and dividers as well. One of the more popular ebay sellers is Bento Obento (Bento TV Girl) and I notice alot of the containers she sells are from the local $1.00 store -- marked WAY up. I appreciate enterprising folks as much as the next person, but check out your own dollar stores for tiny cups and containers, and don't ignore the hardware section, before you load up at eBay.

Subspace points out that alot of the "reusable bento cups" are actually silicone bakign cups from bakery supply and craft stores, such as Michael's. You can stop in and buy those reusuable cupcake liners as well, if you don't mind washing them out each night. I prefer the paper cups and dividers, myself, so that I'm not charged with keeping track of my muffin cups.

Have fun!
KJF916 Posted 12 years ago. Edited by KJF916 (member) 12 years ago
And I got my tiffin boxes from THIS seller on ebay

search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZsavingmoney2000QQhtZ-1

He sells small, medium, and large boxes, they were brand new, very good quality, very inexpensive, and arrived very quickly from London. Faster than some stuff from the USA!
tofutti3 12 years ago
thank you all for your responses!

I just ordered a small 3 section tiffin from the same seller. i can't wait to start using it.
tofutti3 12 years ago
I used up all my uploading for the month so can't send my pic until then :-(

But I couldn't wait so I had to send a link of a pic of my first tiffin lunch:

photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger2/4504/648/1600/115804/P1010...
(noodle salad with smoked tofu and a dodgy carrot flower on top made out of love hearts (I'm new at this), salted edamame and lotus root slices)

Also just wanted to say thanks again. I love my tiffin, it might be a bit small so I might order the medium size one. So much for my concern about it being too big, but I'm certainly a fan.
UTStud 11 years ago
HI Tofutti3,
Yesterday I went to china town, I saw a stainless steel 'Mr. Bento'. You can check it at Thai Kee, supermarket in Market City building (above paddy's market, Sydney) I think it was $38.50. Good value.
admin
amanky 11 years ago
@tofutti3: I know the month is almost over... but let me pause and sing the wonders of a pro account...

go for it! totally worth it!
Groups Beta